The Inspiring Mumbai Dabbawala

Dr. Trilok Kumar Jain
Published on: 19th August 2015
The motivating words of parents, teachers and guardians often help children in overcoming their dilemma and enable them to take up the right path. These words may appear harsh or blunt, but these words do act as magic and enable a transformation. Hailing from a small village, Pawan Agarwal had gigantic dreams and therefore he came to Mumbai. He started taking coaching for CA programme, but couldn’t succeed. He failed thrice and decided to quit. He returned back, but got an inspiring lecture from his father and again came to Mumbai  - this time not to return. His father again sent him letters to further cement his motivation and aspirations. This worked and Pawan has now converted into a motivator for the rest of the world. He completed company secretariship programme, post-graduation, doctorate and many other courses and started imparting coaching to transform the new generations. Relentless pursuit of his goals enabled him to achieve what he couldn’t have even dreamt, but that did not limit his vision. He wanted to give back to the society. He took a study on Mumbai Dabbawala. During the study, he found the hardhships faced by the Dabbawala families. He was inspired and motivated by the life of commitment of an ordinary Dabbawala. From a professor of Accounting, he converted into an ambassador of Dabbawala. Today he travels the world to share the amazing work-culture of Mumbai Dabbawala.
Mumbai Dabbawala
It is rare to find an organization to survive with the same work culture for more than 125 years. It is rare to find an organization to continue to work with age old technologies, age old practices and yet deliver highest level of customer satisfaction. I am talking about Mumbai Dabbawala. it is an amazing organization, where even today, the age and the experience is the sole criteria of leadership. A leader (called Mukadam) not only leads, but also presents highest level of commitment, hardwork and sincerity thereby presenting the highest level of ideals. It is rare to find people with so much of care and concern for their customers, that even when they have any emergency, they would first contact their leader (Mukadam) and ensure that the working of the organization is not affected, because they understand that the smooth working of the organization will help them and their familities to have a smooth life. Ordinary people can be become outstanding champions of quality and they can deliver world class services. The Mumbai Dabbawala people, who are barely literate, share common philosophy, a commitment to excellence and an uncompromising attitude to serve people on time.

Dr. Pawan Agarwal, himself a tireless worker, got inspired from Mumbai Dabbawala and has been studying and promoting them for the last 9 years. He has also started studying and promoting Mumbai Paperwala (those who distribute newspapers in every home). Not just this, he has further taken initiatives to help these people. He imparts free education to the children of Mumbai Dabbawala in his own institutions and encourages others also to do the same.
Bhushan J. Phaphale, son of Jaisingh Phabhale (who is also a Dabbawala and father of Mr. Jaisingh was also a Dabbawala) became a Mumbai Dabbawala when he was very young. He continued his education alongside under the guidance of Dr. Pawan Agarwal. Today Bhushan is an MBA, but he continues to remain a Dabbawala. Besides being a Dabbawala, he has also started other businesses and is able to provide employment to over 200 people through these businesses. This is only one of the many success stories that Dr. Pawan Agarwal shares. He is passionate for Mumbai Dabbawala, because he has seen that this is an organization, which is actually practicing “Work is Worship” to the highest standard possible.

When a person becomes passionate for some cause, he starts breathing that cause, dreaming that cause and living that cause. Then a time comes, when the person gets completely embedded into the organizational system. That is the time, when the person is able to share the true vision and mission of the organization. This is what Dr. Pawan is doing now. He has also set up an institution to impart free education to the children of Dabbawala.  
On a scale of 1-10, how inspiring did you find this article?